It's taken an awful lot of work and planning, and on-going headaches to even get to this stage, but at least I've now got all my little ducks in a row, and I can actually start packing my bags!
We would have been there months ago, (I initially planned for May-June) if not for The Lad... but all those hiccups (okay, more like intense labor pains, rather than hiccups) are now out of the way, and it's all systems go, from now on out.
See... The Lad wanted to go with the Old Guy and myself, and after a lot of wrangling and to-and-froing, I got Child Protection and the Dept of Human Services to agree to allow him to go. You know... kind of like a "once in a lifetime opportunity/ educational" thing... and as a reward to him for all his hard work on getting his life back on track. (and truth be told, he's done an amazing job and I'm extremely proud of him. Most of the time.)
BUT... I insisted that he prove to me - and to the departments as well - that he could budget and save the money for the trip himself.
Every last penny.
He needed to save for not only a plane ticket, but for souvenirs, food, lodging, gas and all that kind of thing. He needed to be 100% self-supporting, while on holiday.
And as of April, he was doing so good.
That is, until his mother stepped in and told him that he could get a "free" dole loan of $1,000 off of Centrelink!! (welfare)
I tried and tried to disabuse him of the notion, and I told him he needed to get in to Centrelink and ask them himself what he was entitled to... (which at his age is nothing - and I knew that) but I also stressed that this was to be money that he earned or saved himself... not money that was simply handed to him by Centrelink or Santa Clause or even by winning the lottery.
But did he listen?
In April, when I asked him to give me a bank statement showing how much he had saved (and at that point, he should have been well over the amt needed for the plane ticket, since he had been saving since January) I was knocked for a loop when I saw that he had managed to spend ("blow" might be the better term) over NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS in less than 6 weeks!!!
And every last cent of it went on complete and utter crap!
Stuff like McDonald's for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and I was worried that his appetite seemed to be off!?)... treating who knows how many friends to Pizza Hut and the movies once or twice a week...
On that bank statement, there was not one single thing that he would end up having any evidence of.
He simply figured that I would never find out!
And his excuse?
But mum says that the dole will give me $1,000... and I figured that with what's left in the bank, I would still be almost $100 ahead!
Okay, kid... all bets are off. I'll just call the Department and ask them to arrange alternate accommodation for you while we're gone, because you will NOT be going with us. Since you figure that you're smarter than I am, and that you know more than I do... And because you don't even have enough spending money to go on a trip overseas, let alone the price of a plane ticket, you can just go into the EAU unit at school! (educational accommodation unit, where kids with disabilities learn 'life skills' that prepare them for independent living)
You could have stuck a fork in me, because I was well and truly DONE like a roast dinner!
But, sucker that I am, I gave him another chance... with the proviso that his bank card was now to be left in my capable little hands at all times, and he could only access it when he took money out for his room and board, as well as his fortnightly spending money - which I highly recommended that he save, from now on out.
And it's worked. He's saved enough that we went down and paid for our tickets to California the other day! (okay, so he was $187. short and I paid the difference, but I already told you that I was a sucker, didn't I?)
So at this point, we're just killin' time (and continuing to save his pay) until the middle of August... when we can get on that plane and fly away from here - if only for a few weeks!
(And contrary to The Lad's wishes, we will not be dropping by Chicago to see where Eminem lives, and to get his autograph! Sorry 'bout that, Mr. Eminem...)
California, here I come... Right back where I started from !!